Pompeo, Netanyahu Fail to Bridge Gap on Israel-Croatia F-16 Deal - Reports
(Source: Sputnik News; posted Jan 02, 2019)
Earlier, the Trump administration accused Israel of breaking the terms of the US-Israeli F-16 fighter jet contract after Tel Aviv attempted to sell Zagreb a batch of 12 of its used F-16s equipped with custom Israeli-made electronic systems.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to come to an agreement on the proposed $500 million F-16 deal between Israel and Croatia, a senior Israeli diplomatic source said, Axios reports.

The matter "is stuck in deep bureaucracy," the official said after confirming that the issue had been broached at the meeting between Pompeo and Netanyahu in Brasilia on Tuesday. The official went on to add that the F-16 deal was the "only issue that is still under discussion" following the meeting.

The US blocked Israel from selling its modified F-16s to Croatia, demanding that they be returned to their original factory state. Croatia, meanwhile, has insisted that it receive the "Israeli version" of the plane, rather than its 'stock' configuration, and has threatened to cancel the deal if the electronics are not included. Under the terms of the original deal with Lockheed Martin, Tel Aviv and Washington had agreed that the US would have to approve any resale of the aircraft to a third party.

Last month, Zagreb denied that the deal had been blocked, insisting that it has been given a green light. However, last week, Axios reported that outgoing US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis personally blocked the sale, despite a telephone call appeal by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Despite the F-16 deal setback, the Israeli official said that Tel Aviv got "almost everything it asked for," in the Pompeo-Netanyahu meeting, with the secretary of state granting Israel "seven out of eight" requests.

"The prime minister left the meeting with the impression that Israel has great influence in certain areas, and that Israel and the US are advancing various ideas with respect to Syria that will help Israel," the official said.

Ahead of Tuesday's meeting, Netanahu said he and Pompeo would discuss ways to "intensify…intelligence and operational cooperation in Syria and elsewhere to block Iranian aggression in the Middle East." Pompeo, for his part, assured Israel that President Trump's recent decision to pull US troops out of Syria "in no way changes anything that this administration is working on alongside Israel."

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